Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Considering Marlowe's reputation, Doctor Faustus is shockingly poor. It makes you appreciate Shakespeare when one reads an exact contemporary writing plays in a similar style on similar subjects but who produces work so flat, so lacking in poetry, so shallow and melodramatic and, - apart from the summoning of the devils - with so little sense of theatre.
The character of Faustus is only skin-deep: his motivations aren't clear and there is little sense of the enormity of his decision nor any plausible motivation. That is only revealed when he sells his soul and embarks on a career as a cheap con-man and juvenile practical joker. You'd think something so momentous would be undertaken to enjoy the glories of the world, but Faustus seems content to tease the Pope and steal his dinner, do conjuring tricks for the Emperor and scam someone who wants to buy a horse.
In Shakespeare's hands, Faustus would have been a doomed hero, diverted from greatness by ambition (like Macbeth), with a tortured soul and sullied magnificence. Marlowe's Faustus is nothing more than a colossal twat.
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